Thursday, April 23, 2020

Religious Rights In Public Schools Essays - , Term Papers

Religious Rights In Public Schools Religious Rights in Public Schools JESUS in the classroom! Are you feeling uncomfortable yet? Religion in the public school systems is among the top of the list of controversial topics in American society, We've long been advised to avoid this and other religiously politically intertwined subjects in polite conversation. If youre like most Americans, this topic makes you frustrated, high strung, or at least a little queasy. From the day the 1st amendment right appeared in the U.S. Constitution, to this present day, and surely into our nations tomorrows, the proper role of religion in public schools has been, is, and will continue to be a subject of great debate. It is important for school officials, parents, and students to have a clear understanding of the 1st amendment and how it affects their religious rights and the religious rights of others in a public school setting. Unfortunately, most people are confused or misguided when it comes to this issue. The purpose of this paper is to guide the reader through a clear understanding of the 1st amendment; the impact it has had in education, the religious freedoms it grants to students, and the religious freedoms it grants (or doesnt grant) to teachers. The Constitution exists precisely so that opinions and judgments, including can be formed, tested, and expressed. These judgments are for the individual to make, not for the Government to decree even with the mandate or approval of a majority (Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, 1999). In knowing that, the 1st amendment states, Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting free exercise thereof As you can see there are two clauses in this part of the amendment. The first is known as the Establishment Clause, which simply says that congress cannot establish a religion. The second is known as the Free Exercise Clause, which prohibits congress from removing the right of the people to freely exercise any religion, or none at all. Although these two clauses of the 1st amendment right seem simple to understand and clear and direct in its meanings, there is no doubt that the 1st amendment needs breathing space and room for interpretation, and statutes attempting to restrict or burden the exercise of First Amendment rights must be narrowly drawn (Herndon v. Lowry, 1937). For example, even the most stringent protection of religious rights would not protect a teacher from sacrificing her students in the name of religion. Every case, whether it be as ridiculous as the one above or a situation that would be much more relevant to every day life is confronted with a question, was the religious expression used in such circumstances or are they of a nature that creates a clear and present danger? Congress has a right to prevent those instances that will bring about substantive evils. In the end the question is one of proximity and degree (Holmes, 1999). Since this amendment first appeared in December of 1791, there have been hundreds of court cases, ruling on the religious rights of students, teachers and other officials in public schools. These court cases with their extraordinary impact, have paved the way to the educational system we have today. Though schools were originally founded for the purpose of inculcating Judeo-Christian values, particularly to teach people how to read the scriptures, John Dewey, the so-called father of modern education, attempted to replace sectarian education and doctrine with a religious faith that shall not be confined to sect, class, or race (Alley, 1996). Over the years since John Dewey, public schools have become secularized. There is no doubt that public schools have changed dramatically. Because of these changes many people have the mistaken view that religion is forbidden on public campuses. A recent poll appearing in the Freedom From Religion Foundation website states that about 60% of the gen eral public is ill informed about the separation of church and state and how it applies in educational settings (Gaylor, 2001). It may come as a surprise to some, but students have many religious rights on public school campuses. In 1969 the Supreme Court held that students do not shed their constitutional rights at the schoolhouse gate and